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Muslims Against the Islamic State

Arab Critics and Supporters of Ali Abdarraziq’s Islamic Laicism

Luay Radhan

The central thesis of this study is that there are religious Muslims who are against the Islamic State for Islamic reasons. Its main goal is to explain Ali Abdarraziq’s (1888–1966) Islamic Laicism and to show the arguments of some of his Arab critics and supporters. Abdarraziq’s Islamic Laicism is based on his Arabic work Islam and the Foundations of Governance: A Research of the Caliphate and Government in Islam (1925). In order to protect the people and the religion from the abuse of power by the state or the mosque, the Islamic Laicists Nasr Abu Zayd, Jamal al-Banna, Faraj Fodah, Abdullahi al-Na’im, and Turki al-Hamad want to separate the religious institutions (the mosque) from the political institutions (the state).
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II. Glossary for Arabic Words


“ahl al-ahwāʾ”: “The people of the heretical trends.”

“ahl al-ʿaqd wa al-ḥall” (or “ahl al-ḥall wa al-ʿaqd”): The Electoral College for the election of the caliph. The literal meaning is “The people who bind and unbind,” i.e. bind or unbind the ruler and the ruled by contract. It is a group of community representatives, conventionally made up of an aristocratic intellectual elite which legitimizes or delegitimizes the supreme ruler.

“ahl al-dhimmah” (“the people of custody”): Historically, this term designates non-Muslims living under Muslim rule and within a Muslim majority. An individual from this group of non-Muslims is called “dhimmī.”

“ahl al-kitāb” (“people of the Book”): This term, which mostly means “Christians and/or Jews,” refers to monotheistic believers of denominations who have received a “Holy Scripture,” such as the Torah or the Gospel.

“ahl al-riddah”: “The People of Apostasy.” While the conservative standpoint states that all the people who were fought by Caliph Abū Bakr (ruled 632–34 AD) in the so-called “ḥurūb al-riddah” (“Wars of Apostasy”) were indeed apostates, others believe that this group consisted of both non-Muslims and Muslims who refused to pay the zakāh (alms) to the caliph.

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